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W. Van police warn of phone scammers

91-year-old woman wires $2,000 to man pretending to be her son

WEST Vancouver police are once again warning seniors to be wary of suspicious phone calls after a 91-year-old woman was scammed out of $2,000.

The victim received a call from a man pretending to be her son who claimed he was in Montreal and in need of money to cover the costs of a car accident. Believing the story, the senior sent a money transfer to a Montreal address through Western Union.

The incident is part of a trend that has hit the district and other communities across North America in the last few months.

"I don't know how they get people's numbers, but it is a scam that's in Canada and the United States," said Cpl. Jag Johal, a spokesman for the West Vancouver police.

Investigators recently received two similar complaints from West Vancouver residents, both of whom were 90 years old. Luckily, the scammers failed in those instances when the targets became suspicious.

According to Johal, there's not much that can be done to recover the funds once they've been sent.

"If on the other side there are surveillance photos of a person, then obviously we'd circulate those photos to try and identify that person, but the money is long since gone," he said.

The WVPD has published a list of tips for seniors to avoid being scammed:

- Be cautious when giving out personal information over the phone.

- Call a family member who can help you verify information, even if time seems to be of the essence.

- If the "grandchild" claims to be in jail, find out which jail it is and verify the information with that institution.

- Ask for a phone number to call the person back.

- Be wary of a request to send money via money transfer.

- Report suspicious circumstances to your local police and Phone Busters at www.phonebusters.com.

If you have been victimized by this scam or a similar scam, please contact the West Vancouver police at 604-925-7300.

mkrishnan@nsnews.com